Chancellor's Inaugural Address
Leading at the Edge
Advancing UC Santa Cruz to the Next Level of Excellence
Thank you very much, President Dynes. I'm really thrilled to see so many of you here, and I'm very excited about today and about the symposium.
Welcome, Regent Marcus; President Dynes; Chair Crosby; Ms. Barnes; UC Santa Cruz students, staff, and faculty; community leaders; and other friends and colleagues. I also want to greet campus partners visiting from Hokkaido University in Japan, led by Dr. Ino Satoru, president of the university.
Ino-sensei – UC Santa Cruz-ni yo'koso irasshaimashita
President Ino, welcome to UC Santa Cruz!
I would also like to recognize that today is one of the most important holidays of the Muslim year--Eid Elfitr, marking the end of Ramadan. Eid Mubarak.
In addition, I want to acknowledge Dr. Shirley Jackson, president of Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, who delivered an outstanding keynote address yesterday to launch our symposium. Thank you, Shirley.
Quisiera también extender una bienvenidas especial a todos los que hablan español como su primer idioma, y también a toda la comunidad Latina que es una parte importante del futuro de este estado.
La universidad es la suya y ojalá que continuamos trabajando juntos para abrir las puertas a todos los estudiantes de California. Gracias.
(I also want to greet all of you for whom Spanish is a first or additional language. The University of California is for you, and together, we will open the gates to all of the students of California.)
It's a true honor for me to be here today. When I took my first engineering class at Rice University as a high school student, I never imagined the wonderful opportunities that would open up to me as a result. I appreciate those opportunities, and I pledge my dedicated and passionate commitment to doing everything humanly possible to advance our great university.
I am very grateful for the support I've received from my family, academic mentors, and many friends over the years. I want to acknowledge especially my partner Gretchen Kalonji, the director of International Strategy Development at UCOP, who is in the audience here today.
My mother, Carolyn, who was a single mom supporting three kids as a high school math teacher, also served as a great role model, as have many others in my life, to whom I want to express my deepest gratitude.
I also want to thank most sincerely all the students, staff, and faculty who have planned the special events of the past few days.
Today, I'm going to review the vision of the founders, recount some campus distinctions, comment on our theme--Achieving Excellence Through Diversity, offer a call to action, and present specific priorities for the future.
Were the leaders who envisioned the ninth University of California campus--Clark Kerr and Dean McHenry--with us today, I believe they would see their dream of creating a unique environment for teaching and learning well on the way to being fulfilled--and fulfilled beyond even their ambitious expectations.
As President Kerr said in his memoir, The Gold and the Blue, "Santa Cruz challenged the multiversity model head on. The Santa Cruz Dream was a wonderful dream."
I have been told by those who knew him that founding UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Dean McHenry often recounted the goal of creating an uncommon undergraduate education, rivaling the finest liberal arts colleges, within a great research university.
Now, 40 years later, the UCSC colleges are undergoing a renaissance. Today, our students not only thrive in an atmosphere of "pursuing truth in the company of friends," as distilled in the motto of UCSC's first college, Cowell, but they also are engaged with our faculty in scholarly activities that are changing the world for the better.
Another way to characterize the UC Santa Cruz learning experience is captured by this statement from the renowned author and philosopher, one of our distinguished alumni, bell hooks.
"To educate as the practice of freedom is a way of teaching that anyone can learn. …To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin."
By transgressing the boundaries between disciplines and breaking the barriers that typically characterize academic organizations, UC Santa Cruz has escaped the stratification--and stultification--that can occur when thinking is "silo-ed" and research is limited to the scope of a single discipline.
Instead, UC Santa Cruz has a reputation for interdisciplinarity that is uniquely enhanced by our agility and youth. This drives the inclination to explore frontiers that occur at the borders of disciplines. UC Santa Cruz has truly earned its reputation for "thinking at the edge."
The result is a long list of distinctions that put us in the company of great universities around the world.
UCSC's research impact is ranked
No. 1 in space sciences in the U.S,
No. 2 in the world in the physical sciences, and
No. 9 in the world in international finance.
Among U.S. public research universities, our research impact is ranked
No. 1 in the social sciences and
No. 6 in the arts and humanities.
In addition to these academic distinctions, we also excel in other areas. For example, UCSC is arguably the most beautiful campus in the country, and guess how we do in athletics. Anybody want to guess? Can you think of an area in which we excel in athletics? Tennis. We have won how many Division III national tennis championships? Five. And at one of the singles competitions, only UCSC players were vying for the top place. This gave rise to the unofficial motto for UCSC athletics: "Banana Slugs—no known predators."
The list of accomplishments continues…
On the back of your program, you will see a few more examples of the ways that the students, staff, faculty and alumni of UC Santa Cruz are making a positive difference.
And, to each of you, I say ‘‘thank you'' for the myriad ways you have contributed to our achievements, which, in only 40 years, have brought our campus to world-class distinction across a broad spectrum of disciplines.
I think we should all take a moment, too, to thank the pioneering students, staff, faculty, and administrators on whose achievements we currently build. So thanks to all the pioneering folks from UC Santa Cruz.
WE'RE DIFFERENT, WITH A PURPOSE
By now, I'm sure you have noticed that this is not a typical inauguration of a university president or chancellor. What's missing?
(Calls for audience participation.)
What do you not see that you normally would?
- Stage parties
In addition, our musical choices expand beyond the Western canon.
This nontraditional approach is deliberate; it's a method to model that UC Santa Cruz does things differently--but for a purpose.
For the past two days, we've intentionally transformed the celebration of this inauguration into an occasion for hope, aiming to overcome that which has divided us, and building toward a deeper sense of purpose and community. We've spent time engaged in thoughtful discussion, and we've laid the groundwork for moving ahead as better, more reflective and generous individuals, who are building an even better university. Through this approach, we have intended to demonstrate one more aspect of the diversity without which true excellence is impossible.
ACHIEVING EXCELLENCE THROUGH DIVERSITY
In fact, at this point, I'd like to say more about our theme, Achieving Excellence through Diversity.
Not content with "thinking at the edge," let's embrace the challenge to "lead at the edge," to build on our past accomplishments, and to continue to make a difference in a society that is rife with challenges affecting everyone on the planet.
Today, we find ourselves in a world that welcomes great discoveries but also endures constant challenges. Even more so than 40 years ago, UC Santa Cruz is poised to address these challenges in ways that no other great university can do.
I say we are "poised to address these challenges" to emphasize the potential of inspired and meaningful leadership. But we must take specific actions to realize this potential.
Although we are a relatively young and small university, we can prove mighty --it is possible for a few people to make a difference, and UC Santa Cruz students, staff, and faculty are doing so every day.
In fact, it is essential to recognize those campus leaders, whose work and sacrifices over the years have resulted in a more diverse and talented student body and faculty at UCSC today than in the past. I particularly want to acknowledge those who provided leadership at risk to their own academic, administrative, and student careers, when our society was less accepting of difference.
As an example of their achievements, today UC Santa Cruz is proud that, in the UC system, we have both the highest percentage of women and the highest percentage of Latinas and Latinos among our ladder rank faculty. This could only have happened with the pioneering efforts of this campus's student and faculty leaders.
What will we have to do to build on our established record of making the world a better place? The answer lies in the theme Achieving Excellence through Diversity.
What is excellence? For me, excellence is achieving the best possible results by engaging the strengths and talents of people from varied backgrounds and personal experiences. And that requires the creation of an environment in which difference is welcomed and celebrated.
What is diversity? I believe that diversity encompasses ethnicity, race, gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, culture, religion, academic discipline, class, ability/disability, nation of origin, diversity of perspective, age, socioeconomic status, and any other aspect of difference that characterizes humanity. Rather than a cause of separation among us, these elements of diversity must unite us. By increasing diversity, we build community. By honoring our different paths, histories, and perspectives, we gain the full spectrum of strengths we will need to create a better future.
With that in mind, when we say that UC Santa Cruz is achieving excellence through diversity, we are suggesting the critical method by which we will, indeed, transform lives and improve our society.
As Margaret Mead said, "if we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place."
Excellence through diversity is achievable--and is, in fact, a crucial element for progress, for ensuring that change truly is for the better.
The practical benefits of inclusion are well documented. A study by Catalyst, the organization that works with business and professions to expand opportunities for women, connected gender diversity and financial performance for 353 of the Fortune 500 companies.
- It used as a metric of success Return on Equity and Total Return to Shareholders
- The results reported that companies with the highest representation of women on their top management teams enjoyed 35% higher return on equity and 34% higher total return to shareholders. Do you think that those are numbers and results that your portfolio manager would notice? They're big numbers, and these significant increases to the bottom line leave no doubt that more inclusive management teams lead to better performance.
CALL TO ACTION
Despite the measurable benefits of diversity, it is clear that we still do not engage the talents of everyone in our society. A national study reported last April by the American Council on Education, "Equality as a Fact, Equality as a Result," states that many students of color continue to experience significant inequality, despite greater participation in higher education. One example is lower graduation rates. Degree attainment rates are significantly lower for African-American and Latino students than they are for whites. This is especially troubling, given our society's movement toward a knowledge-based economy, which makes access to--and completion of--higher education critical.
How do these trends play out in California? The 2000 census revealed that for the first time we have no majority population. For the University of California, dedicated to the people of California, there are obvious implications to the way we do business. Beyond the moral imperative, diversity is simply who we are.
So, what is the situation here on campus with respect to diversity? When I arrived last February, I was very pleased to find ubiquitous posters proclaiming the campus's Principles of Community. These noble aspirations form the bedrock on which we can build highest standards for mutual respect and civil discourse.
Yet, is this oft-claimed celebration of diversity at UC Santa Cruz truly warranted? Based on the discussions at this morning's sessions, it is clear that our proclaimed values of inclusion and acceptance of difference are not experienced equally by all members of our campus community.
For example, we heard today that:
- Santa Cruz is a place where people aren't comfortable disagreeing. It's about "you have your view; I have mine: Can we just not argue?" One comment.
- Second comment: Many students--maybe even all students--sometimes feel uncomfortable with certain classroom situations. They need to have safer ways for that discomfort to be felt and responded to by faculty--preferably in a way that demonstrates accountability.
- A third observation from the morning: We need to build processes that ensure that conversations among undergraduates, graduate students, staff, and faculty get to intersect and that the new ideas inform the planning process.
- And then this comment: Obvious difference, such as race and sometimes class, are often focused on first. And, therefore, other aspects of diversity are often marginalized.
These are all important points.
As Dr. Jackson said yesterday, "Diversity, and discussions of it, can be turbulent and uncomfortable. But, it also is clarifying, illuminating, leading to a deeper understanding of one's self and one's world. Diversity advances innovation--diversity powers excellence."
Another perspective is offered by Gloria Anzaldúa, a UCSC alumna, in her book Borderlands/La Frontera, which transformed the field of cultural and feminist studies.
She states: "But it is not enough to stand on the opposite river bank, shouting questions, challenging patriarchal, white conventions. A counterstance locks one into a dual of oppressor and oppressed. …The counterstance refutes the dominant culture's views and beliefs, and, for this, it is proudly defiant… But it is not a way of life. At some point, on our way to a new consciousness, we will have to leave the opposite bank, the split between the two mortal combatants somehow healed so that we are on both shores at once and, at once, see through serpent and eagle eyes."
These conversations are difficult, and we do have to find ways to work together. Some of you may have received the "alternative" program on your way into the ceremony today. And, on the back of it, as Professor Crosby said, "on the back of your program,'' you will see "Tell Denton to get with the program."
Well, I would recommend and suggest that we work together to define the program, and let's all get to where we want to go together.
There is still more work to do before we have a campus climate in which each one of us feels truly welcomed and genuinely appreciated for the unique contributions each of us offers.
And as many here know, achieving diversity requires that we be in for the long haul--it's not something that we ever really "finish," but a commitment that we address steadily, patiently, and consistently.
The life of Rosa Parks exemplifies this. She is the first woman to lie in honor in the Rotunda of our nation's capital--a practice that began in 1852 to recognize Americans who have made extraordinary contributions to our country. And speaking of patience, waiting 153 years to acknowledge that women have had incredible impact in our society seems like a really long time.
So, just for your information, we are in the seventh-inning stretch of this talk, and we're going to have another audience participation moment. Can you name any woman prior to Ms. Parks who led the way to changing our country for the better?
Susan B. Anthony.
(Calls on audience members.) Say it louder so people can hear.
(Audience calls out.) Harriet Tubman. Margaret Sanger. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Sacajawea. Eleanor Roosevelt. Emma Goldman. Harriet Beecher Stowe. Oprah Winfrey. Well, there's still time for her. Angela Davis. Jane Addams. Sandra Day O'Connor. Helen Keller, Dolores Huerta.
Sojourner Truth. Ok, we have to be out of here by 3 o'clock.
So you get the idea. I believe we can look to a Swahili proverb for guidance in the ongoing struggle for social justice: "Haba na haba, hujaza kibaba," which translates roughly as, "Step by step, we will achieve our goal"
I turn now to our future, the future of UC Santa Cruz. In the past few months, through wide consultation, six specific priorities that will guide us to the next level of distinction have emerged. These priorities will inform all of our decisions and influence the commitment of resources. I'm pleased to review them with you now.
(1) The first priority is to expand educational opportunities, both for undergraduates and graduate students. To accomplish this, we will:
i. Continue revitalization and refinement of our colleges so that they express the 21st century model of the vision of our founders;
ii. Acknowledge and support the invaluable contributions of our graduate students, who are integrally engaged in all aspects of our mission; and
iii. Establish professional schools that will attract the world's leading scholars.
(2) The next and related priority is to build on the quality of our existing academic programs by establishing new offerings that play to our strengths and enhance the research mission. To do this,
a. We will emphasize opportunities born of interdisciplinary connections, as exemplified by our Digital Arts and New Media program that marries the arts and engineering, and also by the interdisciplinary research on environmental justice being done by our Center for Justice, Tolerance and Community's work that brings together environmental science, public health, and sociology in a way that engages affected communities and informs public policymakers.
b. The development of new academic programs will also enhance our competitiveness for additional extramural funding.
(3) A third priority is to increase productive partnerships, both within and beyond our campus.
a. Internally, we will continue to improve our organizational efficiency so we can effectively steward public resources. Many staff and faculty are already engaged in improving our operations, and I thank them for their work.
b. Externally, we must reach out to prospective partners, especially building on mutual opportunities found among companies, educational institutions, and government entities in both Silicon Valley and throughout the Monterey Bay region.
c. Our internal and external partnerships also will help us to expand our financial resources.
i. The successful completion of our Cornerstone Campaign demonstrates our potential for private fundraising.
ii. In the future, we'll do even more to advance a culture of philanthropy, with the goal of increasing private support for students and faculty.
(4) The fourth priority is to renew our commitment to our community.
a. We will continue to engage with local government to address shared concerns for affordable housing, appropriate transportation systems, and a vital economy.
i. And, we will make special efforts to demonstrate the value-added benefits of hosting a great university, such as
- our work with partners in K-12,
- community volunteerism,
- rich cultural experiences, and
- ongoing contributions to our region's economic stability and vitality.
b. We will also honor our commitment to the people of California by offering access to the students of tomorrow.
(5) The fifth priority is to brighten the spotlight on the campus's achievements, to increase national and international recognition for the innovation and other contributions of UC Santa Cruz.
To do this,
a. We will develop a variety of new strategies to showcase the achievements of our shining--and rising--stars, the students, staff, faculty, and alumni that are making a positive difference in our world.
In order to achieve all these goals, the most important priority is to invest in people. We will not reach our potential as a truly great university without exceptional people from diverse backgrounds and experiences in every part of the organization.
Therefore, our sixth priority is to:
(6) Develop strategies to attract, recruit, retain, and promote outstanding and diverse students, staff, and faculty.
a. Recruitment and retention of faculty is paramount, since we compete on a national and international basis to bring the most accomplished academics to our campus.
i. We need to address the issues that challenge us, such as affordable housing, and we need to develop strategies that will attract and retain exceptional faculty.
ii. It is imperative to develop a strategy that ensures that all staff and faculty receive appropriate salaries and compensation that reflects the quality of their contributions.
b. It is particularly important that salaries for service workers, clerical workers, and all other UC employees permit them and their families to live with dignity.
ii. We will support the efforts of the Office of the President and the Regents, who are committed to advancing this priority.
iii. A major investment in people requires a renewed effort in professional development, leadership development, and succession planning.
It is essential that we nurture talent. We will implement a program for leadership development to ensure that our students, staff, and faculty can become our future leaders. If we succeed in this effort in the culturally diverse crucible of California, then UCSC will be the model for building human capacity in higher education.
Achieving all six of these goals will require resources, strategic planning, partnerships, and the commitment to follow through with our plans. We have already invested in an analysis of the campus's diversity and climate, led by the Senate Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity. The results of this work, the outcomes of our symposium, and the results of the nearly-completed UC faculty diversity study will guide us in recommendations for action. I am committed to providing the resources to ensure that together we will succeed.
These priorities build on past goals and achievements. Our campus is renowned for innovation--"thinking at the edge" is only the beginning. I invite you to join me now. Together, let us act, let us demonstrate through our vigorous pursuit of these goals, that we will, indeed, lead at the edge of innovation and beyond.
Today, we begin again. Our campus was born of a pioneering vision, which yet endures. Replete with stellar achievements, UC Santa Cruz is but a brilliant intimation of even more greatness to come.
I look forward to joining you in the journey. Jacta alea est!
Thank you very much.